The ‘Big Event’ to Clean Up Wall Vandalism


‘Graffiti Fixer’ by Robbin Gheesling

American students at local study centers will devote their afternoon to cleaning wall vandalism as well as the city streets for the sixth annual “Big Event” on Thursday, March 10.  Florence’s “Big Event” will unite students from James Madison and Florida State universities, residents, and local businesses with one common purpose: to maintain the city’s historic architecture. The public is invited to join in; those interested are asked to meet in Piazza Tasso at 2 pm, or in front of Florida State University’s Study Center on Via dei Neri 25 at 2:30 pm.

Florence is home to some of the most beautiful artwork and architecture in the world, often a target of vandalism.  Stickers, posters and graffiti, as well as litter, will be carefully removed by volunteers in neighborhoods around the city during “The Big Event.”  All participants are informed on what to bring so they are prepared, such as gloves, scrapers, water spray bottles, trash bags and more.  They will be instructed on what to remove or clean during the day.

The first “Big Event” was hosted by James Madison University in 2014, in collaboration with the Via Maggio Association (AVM) in Florence’s Oltrarno district. While the initiative aims to remove and repaint vandalized areas, it also seeks out those responsible and offers places where street art is both legal and encouraged. This year’s “Big Event”, which is the first to take place since October of 2019, will carry out more complex cleanings requiring the help of professionals. 

In a statement released by the local U.S. Consulate, Consul General Ragini Gupta says, “I am so proud to see this initiative reborn, ‘The Big Event of Florence: Cleaning the world together, for a better future’ and very happy to see our students show their love for the city of Florence, a city that gives us so much.” The event is also supported by the Municipality of Florence, and the Ente Cassa di Firenze Foundation, which is focused on the restoration of Piazza Tasso. 

After the clean-up, all participants will move over to the Conventino in Via Giano della Bella, where they can visit Caffè Letterario; a hip and modern place where people can study and a hangout for locals.  (sarah moats)